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DC schools reopening plans delayed until July 31 due recent COVID-19 data

D.C. Public Schools will return, whether in-person or online on Aug. 31.

WASHINGTON — Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that there will be no decision on the reopening plan for schools until July 31 during a press conference on Thursday.

While the start date for the school year is Aug. 31, the plan on what exactly reopening D.C. Public Schools will look like is not yet final.

City officials said the decision on what schools will look like in the fall depends on health indicators. Recent data shows that it is not ideal for making plans for the upcoming school year.

"We need more time to observe what is happening with the virus and we will make that determination on July 31," Bowser said.

D.C. Health officials are monitoring three metrics of concern before they can determine which scenario will work best to safely have students return to school:

  • Rate of transmission
  • Ability to see declines in community spread
  • How connected are new COVID-19 cases

Officials are considering a hybrid approach to learning, with some students doing both in-person learning and online learning, with one day of in-person instruction and four days of virtual, or an all-virtual learning scenario. Parents will have the option to choose which option works for them.

The Summer Bridge Program will be online for grades three, six, and nine, Bowser said.

RELATED: 'They're using our kids as guinea pigs' | Parents say DCPS is rushing return to classroom for summer program

Several districts in our region have opted to forego hybrid plans in favor of an all-virtual school year.

RELATED: LIST: Back-to-school plans for districts across the DMV

The ReOpen DC Advisory Group has recommended reopening into four phases with distant learning in place. The group has recommended that students should return to campuses on modified schedules, which would include switching between in-person and distance learning depending on the day.

Several school leaders within DCPS spoke with WUSA9 earlier in May about reopening possibilities, discussing their thoughts on the possibility of students returning to classrooms. Some of those options included those social distance efforts.

One leader is Raymond Wheelan, the executive director of Thurgood Marshall Academy in Anacostia. He is part of a group of black leaders offering guidance to the city-wide ReOpen DC committee and has almost daily updates with the Deputy Mayor of Education. 

"We're looking at a lot of work, from a group called instructional partners to the CDC and our own Department of Health," Wheelan said.

WUSA9 confirmed three possible options for return with several school principals:   

1. An extension of the distance learning model for as long as two months

2. Alternating groups of students every other day based on need and grade.

3. Socially distant classroom model with 10 students sitting six feet apart.

RELATED: Prince William County approves all-virtual start to school year

RELATED: Teachers voice concerns about DCPS re-opening plan, nurse staffing issues

RELATED: 'The right move' | Teachers, parents applaud Prince George's schools reopening plan

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